Late Nights with the Puzzle

Since Christmas an enormous jigsaw puzzle has resided on our
dining room table. 3008 piece enormous. On the box it says 3000 pieces, but
when I opened it up, sitting on top of the jumble of minute jigsaw shapes was a
small notice reading in several languages: Note: due to technical reasons this 3000 piece puzzle actually contains 3008 pieces. I considered
returning it right then and there. 3000 pieces, yes, but 3008? That’s pushing
some limits, I’m telling you!

We began the puzzle early in January in those hazy post-Christmas
days. I like a jigsaw puzzle going in the winter to gather the family ‘round
and promote camaraderie ‘gainst the dark nights of winter. Or at least I like
the concept. The fact is, despite the strong efforts of the more dedicated
puzzle do-ers of the family, a 3008 puzzle is just really big. And full of pieces. And takes a loooong time to finish.
But…piece by piece, the picture began to take shape. It’s a
picture of an old map of the world, back in the days of exploration when things
like Canada were still a bit sketchy and over the general area of Australia and
Antarctica is written in large black type “UKNOWNE LAND.” I love old maps –
what promise and danger those days and maps held!
So anyway, every day a few more pieces. And remarkable as it
seemed, slowly the pieces added on tipped the balance and there were more
pieces on the table than there were left in the box.
And somewhere along the way it seemed that the puzzle was a
metaphor for a year of homeschooling. Round about late January, a year of
homeschooling also seems like an insurmountable puzzle. Will our efforts ever
take us anywhere? Will it really amount to something if we do spelling lesson
12 today? And I thought. Yes. It does matter. Everyday a couple more pieces in
the puzzle and eventually the pieces add up. Bits of learning, however small
for each day, add up to the point where the pieces on the table, or already
under the bridge, to mix lots of metaphors, are more than those left to go.
So this morning I prayed with the boys for courage for the
day, for motivation to put a few more pieces into our education, and mid-prayer
it occurred to me that maybe at the end of our homeschooling year, when all the
pieces are placed, we’ll finish with a beautiful map of the world! And all the
confusing bits that confounded us, like the piece with a top of a capital ‘A’
that turned out to actually be the top of a ‘U’ will make sense. Wouldn’t that
be wonderful?
Or maybe we just get that map when we’ve put in all the
pieces into the puzzle of our lives. Or maybe we don’t get to see the map at
all. Maybe we’ll only see the big map when we get to heaven. Maybe when we take
our leave of God’s green earth all the puzzle pieces will still look like a big
jumbly mess in the box. I seem to be living long enough to see that things here
don’t always finish up tidily. Not everyone gets the time to place all the
puzzle pieces. 
Or even if they do, maybe they got the puzzle that isn’t a cool map,
just a kitchy picture of horses and flowers. (Why are there always so many
puzzles of horses?)
I don’t know. But I find that I can’t help always looking
and hoping and trying to understand the metaphor.
In the meantime…we are almost done and I’ll get soon my dining
room table back, and we’re also almost to the point where we can see the end of
the homeschool year, off there in the golden hazy distance. So until then…as Noelle’s auntie would say, it’s
Late Nights with the Puzzle. 

Somebody’s getting a little OCD with the remaining pieces.

Almost there.

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